Network Organizing in One Large Housing Community
We were privileged to work deeply in the Edgewood Terrace community in Washington DC in 2014 with a dedicated team of residents and staff. Similar to many other long time affordable housing communities, we discovered a culture where people rarely make eye contact when passing a stranger, residents live on the same hallway for years and rarely speak or acknowledge each other, and few of the 2,000+ residents are connected to the active civic life in the larger neighborhood surrounding the complex. Determined to preserve Edgewood Terrace as a new hybrid of mixed income housing that can be a positive participant in the changing neighborhood, CPDC, along with Trusted Space Partners and an emerging group of dedicated residents, committed to a long term community change strategy - together! We agreed with one another to pursue the following initial hypothesis: If we create intentional spaces, practices and a network for mutual exchange and collaborative action, we can shift the operating culture of isolation and anger to a culture of aspiration and connection. This initial pursuit flows from an underlying and shared belief that everyone in a particular neighborhood or eco-system (residents, staff, partners, neighbors) is a human being with something to contribute AND that we, as human beings, are interdependent on one another’s contributions in order to achieve a high quality of living and working. We worked collaboratively with CPDC to write a paper summarizing both the results and our lessons learned during this intense year of introducing new spaces, practices and a network form to the Edgewood Terrace community. In addition, we are eager to share some of the images and moments from this year of helping spark a new narrative and a new approach.